Vaisnava Abuse Recovery Group
Posted June 4, 2006
Hare Krsna! Like a lot of others, I too was stunned and mortified by the tragic death of Ananda das. I feel sorry that he had to endure so much pain and suffering. I pray that his family and friends can find some peace and healing from this, eventually, in time.
While I did not know Ananda prabhu, I do know a lot of others like him, victims of child abuse. For the past 20 years, I have worked as a licensed, clinical social worker with victims of sexual abuse and family violence. I applaud Shakuntala dasi for her courage to speak out against injustice and to call for the ISKCON GBC to stop protecting the perpetrators of these crimes against children.
Dhanurdhara Swami should step down from his position of authority because as long as he holds ANY position, it is a closed door to all the victims of the past 30 years to ever fully embrace KC again. No one is saying that he can not be a devotee. He can chant Hare Krsna. But he should not have a position of authority over a single other person. He gave up that right a long time ago in Vrndavana guru kula and he has to earn the right to be trusted again, if ever. The decision and responsibility for this is on him.
I personally witnessed his heavy handedness with the young boys in Vrndavana in 1978 and it has always been uncomfortable for me, all these years. At the time, I was a relatively new devotee and I asked my husband to speak to him about why he had to be so rough with the children. If they nodded off during japa time, they would get hit, shoved or punched. My husband did talk to him and Dhanurdhara replied that children need to be shown discipline to be kept in line. Like I said, I never felt comfortable about that, ever since.
If I had only known then what I know now. That there is a difference between discipline and punishment. One is NOT the other. That perpetrators of this crime are calculating, callous and cruel. They are not in control of their senses. They are the "People of the Lie" written about by Scott Peck, in his book by the same name. They have lied to themselves about the cruelty that they are inflicting on others. They have minimized their own behavior and over inflated their own self importance in whatever role or position of authority that they hold over others. They have no compassion for the feelings of others, often times the littlest and most helpless victims, children. They see themselves as martyrs or even convince others that they are themselves, victims. That the children made them do whatever type of abuse was performed. They are good at convincing others of their lies.
But soon there will be a website for victims of abuse to go to for help,
education, support and assistance with their recovery process. VSARG, the
Vaisnava Abuse Recovery Group will be a site with secure forums for
connecting with others who have walked in similar paths. Hopefully, by this
site and other resource information, we can educate all the children and
adults within ISKCON, so that this history does not repeat itself.